Friday, February 18, 2011

Départ et Arrivée

I took the airport shuttle from Sonoma County Airport at 0945 Wednesday, left SF airport at 1450 flew through Frankfurt to Toulouse and arrived in the village of Soreze at 1900 (GMT, that's +9 hrs to CA time) on Thursday night. It was a very long day and one of the more grueling Lufthansa flights that I have taken to date.

I usually fly SF=>Munich=>Toulouse, but I thought I'd try this route through Frakfurt because it got me into Toulouse in the afternoon rather than at 8:50 pm -- too late to get the Arc en Ciel (Rainbow) bus to Revel (the town next to Soreze) where the car would be waiting for me.

I am here to report that Frankfurt is a much less organized/user friendly airport than Munich. And the plane SF=>Frankfurt is a Boeing 747, a world of difference from the Airbus Industrie A340, which has more leg room, individual, seat back video screens, 7 bathrooms downstairs at the back of the plane in Economy. The A340 has been designed in such a way that sitting in the cattle section is bearable.

The leg room on the Boeing 747 was crippling. I was in the window seat of a three combo. Next to me was a ! 97 year-old ! Turkish lady, in hijab with raisin eyes, and on the aisle her ~80 year-old son. Very nice people, but she did/could not move out of her seat during the whole 10.5 hour flight. And the three of seats in front of us were tilted back. Every time I had to get out to go to the bathroom it was a laughable contortion exercise.

Son and mother were both very decent about it, helpful even. By the end of the flight we were compatriots. But my knees were locking up. I don't think that has ever happened before. And, in my full time work period, I flew a Lot.

Speaking of good design, the snack on the commuter flight Frankfurt=>Toulouse was a model of thoughtful packaging. It was pasta salad with a mini sausage patty on top and a packet of good saltines. The two edibles and the eating implement all came stacked in what was essentially a drinking cup divided into compartments. The plastic fork, actually a spork, as you can see in the close-up, was tucked up into the "Be Invited" Lufthansa snack lid. Once you got it out of its wrapping you just snapped the handle flat and were ready to eat. The pasta salad and saltines were actually a decent, homestyle-German-type of snack.

When I arrived in my little house here, there were some supplies for breakfast waiting for me on the table. Monique had been over to turn on the heat and she left a note inviting me over for a bowl of soup and a warm up by their wood stove.

What would I do without the friends on either end of this journey?!

I woke up at 6 am quite jetlagged this morning, turned on the gas fireplace to warm the bathroom and drew a deep, hot bath in which to soak my travel weary knees, ankles and bones.

When I went around the corner at 11 to get milk from the Utile for my tea, I was surprised by the little Friday market. The vendors used to only come to our small village (Pop. 2500 including the outlying areas) in the summer, but it seems they have hung on through the winter this year. I was able to get farm fresh eggs (only 1.50€ for 6 here), spinach, green onions and a little cœur de chèvre (goat cheese) with which to make an omelet for my dinner tonight.

It is the heart in the journey that makes it all worthwhile.

Bisous from Soreze,
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